Personal injury lawyers overall have suffered a decline in business during the pandemic, and the reason is obvious – people aren’t driving anywhere.
Less drivers, less accidents. But attorneys are already looking to the post-pandemic economy for an uptick in business.For Barry Goldberg, personal injury attorney in Woodland Hills at Barry P. Goldberg Law Firm, the pandemic arrived as he was expanding his footprint. Goldberg in April moved his team to new office space, double the square footage compared to its previous address. At the time he had an inventory of 150 cases which needed resolution.“When the pandemic started, we had three record quarters of earnings,” Goldberg told the Business Journal. “That was because we had a good number of inventoried cases. For PI, it depends a lot on what the practice looks like. I know a lot of solo lawyers, they have under 25 cases and they just work them real hard, and they are struggling disproportionately because there’s not enough business for them.”During the fourth quarter of last year, Goldberg’s business dropped by 50 percent. He attributed that to the second stay-at-home order.
“I picked up a couple cases from law firms that went out of business. Just the older guys that said ‘That’s it, I’m out,’” explained Goldberg. “A comparable size PI lawyer in my building told me that he was down to two to three new cases per month. That’s disastrous for this size of a law firm.”Overall, revenue for 2020 was similar to 2019 and now the firm is “back to baseline.”“Here’s my prediction: When things come back in Southern California, my practice is going to blow up,” Goldberg told the Business Journal. “I’ve been doing all the things you’re supposed to do to build an online presence and a lot of my competitors have taken a step back and aren’t doing it.”Goldberg said he has doubled down on marketing, and has seen positive results from 10 years of blogging on law topics, especially in his niche expertise of uninsured or underinsured motorist law.
“During the pandemic I’ve signed multiple six-figure cases in that area because people are asking questions and doing their own research. That’s not very common in PI. … Most PI lawyers aren’t really putting out that kind of content,” he pointed out.The Woodland Hills attorney said he has mitigated the decline in number of cases by recouping more with wins. Insurance companies are paying out an average 10 to 15 percent more per case, compared to pre-pandemic numbers, he said. Goldberg attributes this to insurers avoiding litigation in a clogged court system.“Insurers, not across the board but generally, are litigation adverse right now. If we file a lawsuit, we get a couple calls from higher ups saying, ‘Can’t we get this thing resolved?’ This tells me, and I’ve confirmed this with defense lawyers, that the insurers are trying to reduce litigation caseload,” Goldberg said.
– Amy Stulick